Cranberry scones with orange zest

scones aux cranberries et zeste d'orange - cranberry scones with orange zest

It’s amazing how much peace this little space brings me sometimes. For so many months it felt like a wasteland, and I couldn’t bear to think about the fact that I wasn’t taking care of my own little garden. Since I’ve started to get back on track, I almost feel like I can breathe again. At least my head is out of the water. How can you forget about something you love to do so much? I lost track of what’s important for a while. Now I remember that cooking is not only cool, it’s also a form of salvation, something that keeps me going and most of all a thread that ties together all the days of my life. Sure, I don’t cook everyday, not even every week at times (argh), but whenever I get back to it it just feels right.

scones aux cranberries et zeste d'orange - cranberry scones with orange zest

Especially when I get back to cooking to bake these beautiful little things. They seem to have brought so much comfort to everyone who had a bite that I didn’t even need to have one myself (rest assured, I did anyway.) It’s like giving away little pillows of love –and heavy cream, if I’m going to level with you.

It started out with my good friend Edouard who had a craving for scones and asked me for a recipe. I realized the one and only recipe for scones that had ever been up on the early days of this blog had disappeared with the various platform switches. I didn’t really need any more reason to add it to my to-do list for the weekend. Needless to say it was a perfect weekend, largely thanks to them. Funny thing, Edouard didn’t get to try them, but he made his own following this recipe and said they were “too good”.

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Cranberry scones with orange zest

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Yields 8 scones

Ingredients:

- 2 cups flour + more for work surface
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 cup heavy cream, cold
- 5 tbsp butter, cold and diced into 1/4 inch cubes
- 3/4 cups dried cranberries
- 2 tsp brown sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicon mat.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, stir together the cream, honey and zest, until the honey is completely incorporated into the cream.

3. Add the diced butter to the flour mixture, and mix with your hands, until crumbly with pieces of butter no bigger than peas. Stir in the cranberries. Add the cream and stir for 30 seconds, until the whole dough is humidified.

4. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead 3 to 5 times. Shape into an 8-inch circle. Cut 8 pieces and place on prepared sheet. Sprinkle with brown sugar and bake for 15 minutes, until the top is golden. Wait for at least a few minutes before serving.

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scones cranberries zestes d'orange - cranberry scones with orange zestMy tips:

- You can keep the cream mixture in the fridge while you mix the flour and butter (I had forgotten to leave mine very cold… but what matters is that you don’t overmix the cream so it doesn’t curdle.)
- Apparently it’s wiser to freeze the scones to store them, and reheat them in the oven, but I haven’t had the occasion to try this method.

Source: Inspired Taste.

Curried zucchini pumpkin soup

velouté courgettes potiron au curry pumpkin zucchini soup

It’s pumpkin week over here. It figures, I had a can of pumpkin puree open, I had to go all the way. Especially since it had been brought all the way from New York by a good friend of mine. That was really the one thing I needed from New York. And that’s probably going to be the one thing I take home when I return from my upcoming trip there. That and cherry chapstick. Woohoo.

So this soup. This soup is very fall-ish I think; least I hope. Because that’s what I was aiming for. I’m generally not that good with fall spirit. I hate fall as much as you can hate a season. It makes me feel like everything is crumbling down and life will never return to normal. But it always does, that’s the beauty of spring. Spring, I LOVE. I tend to love and hate, there’s no in between.

velouté courgettes potiron au curry pumpkin zucchini soup

Even if it’s not that fall-ish — I am aware that the main ingredient is zucchini, after all– it’s still a decent mid-October choice. Here’s why. First, it’s easy to make. Second, it’s pretty straightforward, meaning it tastes like the name of its ingredients, but with a twist — curry. Woohoo (encore.) Third, it’s the first time I post a zucchini soup recipe over here, which is no small deal. I’m not sure why but I’m sure it matters, to someone somewhere. Especially when you know that I’m a huge fan of zucchini. That’s probably why I like to eat it any season, including and especially the most depressing ones. Woohoo.

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Curried zucchini pumkin soup

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 3 – 4

Ingredients:

- 3 lb zucchini, half peeled and cubed
- 3 shallots, chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1 heaping cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts, to serve
- 1 handful fresh chives, to serve
- juice of 1 lemon, to serve

Directions: 

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the onions and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring regularly, until they begin to be translucent. Add the zucchini, season with salt, pepper and the curry powder. Stir well and sauté for about 10  minutes, stirring regularly, until they start to turn golden.

2. Add 1 1/2 cup water and the pumpkin puree, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the zucchini is cooked through. Blend with an immersion blender, ladle into bowls, then add 1/2 tbsp lemon juice per bowl, sprinkle with hazelnuts and chives just before serving.

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velouté courgettes potiron au curry pumpkin zucchini soupMy tips: 

- If you want a more pronounced curry taste, add 1 or 2 tsp curry powder. As it is, the flavor of zucchini is the most present.

Source: Inspired by The New York Times.

Pumpkin bites with morbier cheese and pumpkin seeds

bouchées potiron morbier cheese pumpkin bites

These little soldier looking bites may seem weird to you (way to go Clem, point out the flaws in the opening sentence), but it’s fine, they looked weird to me too when they came out of the oven. It’s the damn cheese. The cheese. It’s a love hate relationship with it. Who am I kidding, I just love it. I could never hate it, it’s too good. So what happened there is that the cheese was so melty and irresistible that it kind of misshaped (first time I use that word, for sure) the cute little bites. I mean, the pumpkin was in place, the egg and milk and pumpkin seeds were in place, but the cheese had to come and screw all of that up. But it’s fair. Because cheese is a million times better than any of the other ingredients in there.

Take a closer look.

bouchées potiron morbier cheese pumpkin bites

Don’t they look pretty decent now that I’ve given you all that talk about cheese? And not just any cheese you know, morbier. Morbier, even. That’s right, it should be spelt with caps. It’s a soft cheese from the mountains, I’m not sure which mountains, but who cares. If you’ve ever had reblochon, you know what I’m talking about. It’s the same general idea.

When I was living in the US the first year (I might have told that story before), I was a young and innocent girl and thought that the food in the US wouldn’t be too hard to deal with when you come from France. After just a few weeks, I was miserable. And then a friend visited me, and she brought Morbier. Wow. I still remember what it felt like to have that first bite.

So I chose Morbier in this recipe, and I decided to go with pumpkin because, well, it’s fall so I figured I might as well go with the flow. I threw in a couple pumpkin seeds, to make sure that you *get* it, it’s all about fall and pumpkin. But really, really, it’s all about cheese in my head; fat, greasy, insanely tasty cheese. _____________________________________________________

Pumpkin bites with morbier cheese and pumpkin seeds

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Yields 30 small bites

Ingredients:

- 3/4 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- 5 oz morbier cheese (or other soft mountain cheese), finely diced
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 340°F. Grease bite pans, if necessary (I used cannelé pans, but use any type you have.) In a bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder.

2. In a medium bowl, beat the egg and milk with a fork. Stir in the pumpkin, nutmeg, diced cheese and 3/4 of the pumpkin seeds. Season with salt. Stir in the flour mixture, until incorporated.

3. Place a few pumpkin seeds at the bottom of each pan if you wish, or just use the last 1/4 to sprinkle at the top once you’ve filled the pans, depending on the shape of your pans. Fill with the mixture, making sure you don’t leave to much cheese on top so it doesn’t overflow, then bake for 20 to 30 minutes, checking regularly, until the cheese is golden and the consistency is firm. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from pans and serving.

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bouchées potiron morbier cheese pumpkin bitesMy tips:

- Substitute reblochon cheese.
- Be sure to dice the cheese finely, so you limit the amount of melted cheese which will overflow while baking.

Source: adapted from Framboises & Bergamote.

Mint cucumber smoothie

smoothie concombre menthe - cucumber mint smoothie

Funny thing, I’ve been on a smoothie streak since I got back from summer vacation. Why funny, you ask? Because this particular smoothie actually dates back to last spring, which in my life story is equivalent to a billion chapters ago. A lot has happened since last spring. So I feel like this smoothie belongs to the prehistory of my relationship with smoothies. A preamble, if you will.

I should be sharing with you all these smoothies I’ve been making, but to be honest, these days even if I do take the time to check my Facebook page, I really don’t have the time to do anything else somewhere between 6.38 and 6.42 (that’s AM, of course.) So these little gems I keep to myself, for now.

smoothie concombre menthe - cucumber mint smoothie

However, this one, even though not really the morning kind of smoothie –I’m not sure what I think about cucumber in the morning just yet, maybe I should give it a try– is truly delightful. It might have to do with the fact that it came from a cookbook a dear dear friend of mine gave me last spring, before she left to spend a year in the US, ie before she stranded me in Paris. So posting this recipe in October is both a way of remembering the good times we had back then (you know, when I wasn’t sounding like a 98 year old yet) and of telling her how much I miss her! Smoothies do that.

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Mint cucumber smoothie

Prep time: 5 minutes
No cooking
Yields 1 large smoothie

Ingredients:

- 1 cucumber
- 6 leaves fresh mint + 1 or 2 to decorate
- 1/2 lemon
- 3 ice cubes

Directions: 

1. Peel and cube the cucumber. Reserve one slice of peel to decorate at the end. Juice the lemon.

2. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or a blender and mix until smooth. Add the slice of cucumber and a couple leaves of fresh mint, if desired, and serve immediately.

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smoothie concombre menthe - cucumber mint smoothieMy tips: 

- You can add a slice of lemon to the glass or a few drops of lemon after mixing.
- I’m wondering whether it wouldn’t be even healthier to use unpeeled cucumber, providing you use organic vegetables of course (of course.) …

Source: 200 recettes comme à New York, Marabout.

Chewy chocolate chip cookies

cookies fondants aux pépites de chocolat - chewy chocolate chip cookies

Cookies are basically the thing that everyone should know how to make. At least that’s probably how it works in the English-speaking world. In France it’s another story (a whole nother story, as I heard a Georgian say recently). When we think we master the art of cookie-making, what we’re really making is crumbly, dry and unconvincingly industrial-tasting cookie. Blah. I don’t like those. I really don’t like those. They remind me of the kind we would buy for afternoon snacks when I was a child, with the packaging making it look like we were having truly American food (stars and stripes and all.) It was all a sham.

So I was not half proud the first time I managed a batch of actual chewy chocolate chip cookies. The melt-in-your-mouth, never-leaving-any-crumb, heavenly sinful kind. So sinful I know I cannot even have a whole one, or I will eat the goddam batch. So I usually stick to a half, which is the most meltingly soft piece of sweet you could ever dream of, and I stop there. And I watch the others enjoy the rest like it’s the first time in their lives they’ve ever had sugar. I’m selfless like that.

cookies fondants aux pépites de chocolat - chewy chocolate chip cookies

True, mine are probably not the prettiest — in fact I’ve seen much prettier, no later than last week, when a friend had beat me to it and brought her own batch of pretty-looking cookies that made me feel like such a cookie misfit with my misshapen, anything-but-round cookies (I tend to experience things quite intensely.) Still, at the end of the night, the verdict was unanimous: the ugly ones were definitely incomparable. Yes yes yes.

I will make them again and again and I suggest you do the same if you want to fix your sugar craving in the heavenliest way possible/ make people look up to you/ feel like life is worth something after all.

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Chewy chocolate chip cookies

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes (per batch)
Yields about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 14 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 oz dark chocolate
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment. Roughly chop the dark chocolate with a sharp knife. Do not chop the chocolate to thinly or it will crumble (just make sure the pieces are no bigger than 1/4 “, so they fit inside the cookies. If a few of them are bigger it’s no big deal.)

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed, until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, until combined. Beat in the flour mixture, until completely combined. Stir in or beat in the chopped dark chocolate, until combined.

4. With your hands, roll 1 heaping tbsp cookie dough into a ball. Tear it into 2 even pieces, place the first piece torn side down on the prepared baking sheet, then place the other half on top of it (like a snowman.) Repeat the process until you get to the end of the dough, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie ball on the baking sheet. Add a few chocolate chips on top of each cookie ball before baking (this is only so they look nicer.)

5. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, checking regularly. Remove from the oven before the edges are golden. They will still be very soft when they come out of the oven. Let cool completely before removing from parchment and storing in an airtight container. I would tell you they keep for several days but I’ve never had the opportunity to experience that.

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cookies fondants aux pépites de chocolat - chewy chocolate chip cookiesMy tips:

- I use chopped chocolate because I find sturdier pieces of chocolate inside the cookies are better, but feel free to substitute the same amount of chocolate chips.
- If you bake the cookies in several batches, after a few batched they will bake quicker (I guess it has to do with the oven or baking sheet temperature), so you might need to subtract a couple minutes’ baking time so they don’t overbake.
- If it’s going to take a while (like when you have a tiny oven like me), refrigerate the dough in between batches.

Source: The Novice Chef Blog.

Beef meatballs with fava beans & lemon

boulettes fèves citron - fava bean lemon meatballs (1 of 1)

To say that this recipe was a hit would be yet another understatement. When I read food blogs, I feel like every food blogger has mental rankings of the recipes they publish –of course, every single recipe you post has to be great, and you’re going to emphasize that, but every now and then you come across a gem, and you want to highlight it even more. This is one of them. The great among the great.

In case I haven’t said it enough, I have a thing for meatballs. In fact if it were up to me, this blog would be called ‘clementine balls’, as dubious as this name sounds, and as nonsensical as it is for an aspiring vegetarian to be obsessed with meatballs. I don’t know whether it’s a psychoanalytical thing (I’d rather not dwell on that if that’s okay with you), but I’d bet it has to do with the marvellous meatballs my grandma has always made. She’s the meatball wizard, and if there’s one thing I wish to achieve in life, it’s her meatball-making skills.

So you can imagine how much I felt like I was betraying her when I strayed from family tradition to try this very recipe from my beloved Ottolenghi. I was expecting to be disappointed — in fact, I could already hear myself in my head saying ‘they’re good, but not as good as the ones my grandma makes‘ with a little satisfied snicker.

Yep, I was wrong. Not only did everyone love (love love love) them, so did I. I loved the combination of lemon and fava beans, not the mention the million layers of flavors that come with every single Ottolenghi recipe (how do they do that??) and make you feel like you’re home again. Sigh. They’re that good.

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Beef meatballs with fava beans & lemon

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves 4 to 6 (about 20 meatballs)

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

- 1 lb quality lean ground beef
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 egg, beaten

For the side:

- 12 oz shelled frozen fava beans
- 4 – 5 tbsp olive oil
- 4 sprigs dried thyme, leaves picked
- 6 cloves garlic, sliced
- 6 spring onions, sliced diagonally
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 handful fresh parsley and cilantro, chopped, to serve

Directions:

1. To make the meatballs: Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, add a large pinch of salt, freshly cracked pepper, then mix with your hands until combined. Shape into plum-size balls, then place on a plate. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large frying that has a lid over medium heat, then sauté the meatballs for about 5 minutes, until golden on all sides (Make it in two batches if necessary, adding olive oil between each batch.) Remove the meatballs from the pan.

2. While the meatballs are cooking, blanche the beans in a large pot of salted boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse in cold water.

3. In the same frying pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the thyme, garlic and spring onions and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the beans, half the lemon juice, 1/3 cup broth, salt and pepper. There should be enough liquid for the beans not too dry (add broth otherwise.) Cover and simmer on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, checking regularly.

4. Place the meatballs back in the pan with the beans, add the rest of the broth, cover and simmer on medium heat for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, there should still be enough sauce, since the meatballs will keep absorbing more. At this stage, you can turn off the heat until just before ready to serve.

5. A few minutes before serving, reheat the pan over medium heat, add the rest of the lemon juice and sprinkle with the fresh herbs before serving.

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My tips: 

- The original recipe calls for half ground beef, half ground lamb, but I cut to the chase and used only beef (mostly because I’m not a fan of lamb). I would definitely recommand using only beef if it’s easier for you, considering the depth of flavor as it is.
- You can also use unshelled beans and shell half of them after blanching.
- Since shelled fava beans are so fragile, be very gentle when you stir and cook them.

Source: Jerusalem, by Ottolenghi and Tamimi.

Coconut macaroons {congolais}

congolais - coconut macaroons

Alright. So I said I was back. I said I said I said. I’ll never say anything again. I should stop trying to impose tasks on myself that I obviously cannot handle. Like when I go away on vacation across the world for five long weeks with very scarce internet connection, thinking that I can update this blog every week. Sure. Whatever.

So now I have a new philosophy: for now I’m here, maybe just for today, for a few weeks, or hopefully for a bit more, but let’s make the most of this moment. Internet is all about fleetingness anyway, right?

congolais - coconut macaroons

Back to school/work/reality is usually not a very fun moment for me –or anyone for that matter I guess. This year, the stars have been more generous with me, and early September has been pretty smooth. I hope it stays that way. So I thought little coconut macaroons (also known, tragically and ironically, as “Congolese”…) were just the right thing to at least *try and* get back on track, blogwise.

These are incredibly easy to make –in case you don’t remember me, I’m all about easy and quick– and they look sort of fancy, iff you ever need to up the fanciness in your life. Plus coconut reminds me of summer (coconut water drank straight from the nut with a straw, anyone?) And I’m still not completely over summer.

I know I’ve said it way too many times, but it’s my blog and I say whatever I want (except promises I can’t keep, I promise); it’s good to be back. Feels like home, after all.

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Coconut macaroons (congolais)

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 6 minutes
Yields 12 macaroons

Ingredients:

- 1 cup + 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
- scant 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1.5 oz egg white (1 large egg white)
- 1 tbsp applesauce

Directions: 

1. Preheat oven to 430°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

2. In a bowl, stir together the sugar and coconut. Stir in the egg white and applesauce, then use your fingers to mix until smooth.

3. Cook this mix with a double boiler on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until the ingredients are combined.  Let cool for a few minutes.

4. Shape cherry-size balls between your wet palms, then place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 6 to 7 minutes, checking frequently so the top doesn’t burn (it does very fast!). Let cool completely before serving.

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congolais - coconut macaroonsMy tips:

- Double the measurements so there’s enough for everyone!
- Be careful, just as with cookies, the macaroons are still soft when they come out of the oven: they need to cool down completely before behind handled.

Source: Pâtisserie! by Christophe Felder.

Caramelized onion dip

dip à l'oignon caramélisé - caramelized onion dip  (1 of 1)

I know I’ve been gone a while, but at least I’m back on time to ‘celebrate’ 4th of July. I’m using typed air quotes here (are you following?) because I’m actually not going to celebrate anything over here, but I’m happy for my American friends who get to celebrate and have fun and enjoy a long weekend, while dipping their fingers in this dip. It’s kinda hard not to.

dip à l'oignon caramélisé - caramelized onion dip  (1 of 1)-3

We French people didn’t really have a ‘dip culture’ (is that a thing?) until very recently. I’ve always been wary of dips that include some kind of creaminess on top of the star ingredient, but this one, I instantly wanted to make. I don’t know if it was the onions, or the cream, or the cream, or the cream. It just appealed to me. A lot of the time my recipe selection relies on recipe crushes: I see you, I want to try you out instantly.

Plus it’s also the kind of recipe that takes absolutely no effort to prepare -once you’ve chopped the onions that is. Bake, mix, refrigerate, enjoy. By the pool, with a cold beer beverage in your hand, while someone -certainly not me – is heating up the barbecue. Ah, feels good to be American sometimes…

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Caramelized onion dip

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 1/2 hours
Yields about 2 cups (serves 4 to 6)

Ingredients:

- 2 yellow onions (about 2 cups), chopped
- 1 tbsp melted butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup cream cheese
- 1/2 cup low fat sour cream
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp herbs de Provence (or dried thyme)
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the onions in a thin layer in a baking dish, stir in melted butter and olive oil to coat. Cover with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes, and lowering to 350°F after 1 hour if they are starting to burn. Let cool.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients. Refrigerate overnight and serve with bread or crudités. ______________________________________________

dip à l'oignon caramélisé - caramelized onion dip  (1 of 1)-2My tips:

- The dip is very tasty even if it hasn’t been refrigerated overnight, in case you haven’t planned ahead.

Source: Our Best Bites.